What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jigglestick, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. jigglestick

    jigglestick Newbie

    If anybody can tell me what I am doing wrong, it would be greatly appreciated.

    I am using a Dyna Glo gas smoker. I have only been doing this for about 6 months. Most everything I smoke turns out great, however, I just can't seem to get one of the easiest meats to cooperate. The pork shoulder. I would like the final result to be pulled pork. I have browsed the internet for a multitude of ways to smoke a pork shoulder, and feel that I have done everything required to have great results. But I never do. I've tried at least 5 times, and each time it seems to come out real fatty and tough.

    Here are the details for my last one. I have a 3.5 lb, bone-in pork shoulder. It is completely thawed out and at room temp. I coat it in my favorite rub and let it set while I get my smoker set up. I fill the water pan. I fill the wood box. And I get the smoker up to temp. Now, as far as temp goes, I've heard that the door mounted thermometers aren't that accurate. My smoker has a dark area ranged between 200-275. My smoker usually won't even smoke until it is about 225. Whether or not that is the correct temp, I'm not sure. I just know what to go by for good consistency on other things I've smoked. Either way, I always use a meat thermometer for internal temps.

    Anyways, after my smoker reaches about 225-250, I throw in the shoulder. I baste it every hour and refill my water tray. As I understand it, a general rule is an hour per pound. Since I had a 3.5 lb shoulder, I figured 3.5 - 4 hrs. I've done that, with poor results. This time, I gave it over 7 hours. There were times when I checked my smoker, and it was 275+ degrees. At 5 hrs, I checked the internal temp and got 160 degrees.

    As usual, I got the same result. Fatty and tough. It was not over cooked, dried out, or burnt. It looked perfect on the outside. On the inside, it was full of fat and tough to pull apart. A little pink yet too.

    I don't know what it's going to take to get this thing to come out the way I see it online, but I am about to give up.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Definitely undercooked.  Try one thing; don't use water in the water pan and dry smoke the meat.  I dry smoke 99% of the time.  Basting is your choice but I don't bother.  Water is a heat sink that can keep the internal temperature low, especially if you put the meat directly over the water pan. 

    By doing so you'll get a true higher chamber temp and the meat temp will rise accordingly.  Pork butt/shoulder when taken to 195-205 IT has enough fat and connective tissue to melt that it will be juicy.  You can also wrap the meat at 160-180F IT if you are concerned about it drying out.    

    Let us know how it turns out. 
    jigglestick likes this.
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Definitely undercooked. If your smoker temp was constant with water in the pan, then all you will do if you don't use water is raise the smoker temp. I put a layer of lava rocks on the bottom of the pan, then cover with water. IMHO this works well at stabilizing the temps & creating a moist environment for the meat. 

    If your IT is 205, then there is no way the meat will not pull easily & be super juicy & tender.

    Cook it longer.

    jigglestick likes this.
  4. smokin phil

    smokin phil Smoking Fanatic

    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
    jigglestick likes this.
  5. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Usually cook all my butts to around 205. Checking for bone wiggle for done ness . Sometimes it's harder cooking smaller butts than bigger ones. I also usually pan at 165 and then finish.
    jigglestick likes this.
  6. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    I think some above are missing the point.  There is no way his grate temp is as high as he thinks it is.  A 3.5 lb butt should be overcooked in 7 hours.  I agree with noboundries regarding the water pan.  Not needed and creating an unnecessary heat sink for a smoker that isn't as hot as he thinks it is.  A maverick probe at center grate temp may tell him a lot more about the actual temp as well.

    Also - stop opening the door and basting so often - really not needed for a hunk of meat with that much fat.  If you're looking, it aint cookin'.

    My 2 cents.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
    jigglestick likes this.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First...  a water pan in the smoker only cools the smoker.....     Basting the meat only adds water to the surface which then evaporates cooling the meat...   cook to an internal temp of around 195-205....    

    I cook to an IT of 195 ish... but I hold the meat at that temp for an hour or so....  and my smoker is at 205 - 210 deg. F using a calibrated therm...  takes about 15 hours to cook the butt like that....
    jigglestick likes this.
  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Everyone is giving you excellent tips. Especially Ray and Dave. My $0.02 would to wrap the butt at around 150-165* and add 1/2 cup of apple juice. Wrapping will aid in getting through the stall and getting done a little faster. The apple juice will add moisture and the acidity will help to tenderize the meat.

    Good luck and keep us up to date. Joe
    jigglestick likes this.
  9. jigglestick

    jigglestick Newbie

    Awesome tips guys. I will absolutely try a dry water pan. Makes sense with that cut of meat being so fatty. I think that one of my faults is relying on the door thermometer that came with the smoker. Doesn't seem real accurate. I have a probe thermometer that allows me to get an IT, but I think that an investment in a good probe that allows me to read the IT with The door closed might be the ticket. Also, getting it to reach the proper higher temp, rather than the 160 I have been going to. Thanks allot. I don't want to give up on pulled pork, its just too good!
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    An IT of 160-165°F is just cooked and is good sliced but a team of horses couldn't get it to pull...For Pork Butts and Shoulders, it is not uncommon to see cook times to an IT of 205 and easy pulling of 2 hours per Lb at 225-250, 1.5Hrs/Lb at 250-275 and you need 300°F+ to see 1 hour per Lb. You on on the right track. You will find ALL your cooks will go easy if you get an accurate therm to measure the smoker temp near the meat and IT of the meat...JJ

    BTW...Each time you open the door and baste, you are adding 20 to 30 minutes to the total cook time.
    jigglestick likes this.
  11. jigglestick

    jigglestick Newbie

    I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the great tips. I threw on an 8 pounder today at 8am. Took it out of the smoker at 4:30. Wrapped it in a towel for an hour, and I couldn't wait any longer. The meat was fall apart tender and juicy, incredible goodness!!!

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